Ruth Davidson is clear in her interview with Fraser Nelson and me that she won’t be making her mind up about standing for a Westminster seat until after the Scottish Parliament election in 2021. Why does Davidson want to wait until then before making any decision? Because she thinks she can become First Minister of Scotland.
This might seem a bit bizarre, delusional even; the Labour revival in Scotland means that the Tories are sometimes coming third in the polls and it is hard to see what other party would back her for the job. But Davidson is convinced that there is a ‘clear route’ to the Scottish Tories taking power. In a preview of the argument that she wants to use the day after that election, she declares ‘we have got a tradition in Scotland where the largest party gets to have first chance at providing a government and we’ve never seen a deviation from that’. She continues, ‘We have also seen in Scotland a precedent for the largest party, even if it is the largest party by only a seat which it was in 2010/11, being allowed to take the first crack at government as a minority institution’. She admits that a minority government ‘doing deals on a deal by deal basis is the more likely scenario’ than any kind of full-blown coalition.
When we put it to her that even in the event of her leading the largest party, the SNP and Labour might do a deal to keep the Tories out, she replies ‘if the Labour party do a deal with the SNP to keep a party in power that had lost the popular vote in Scotland then, and I am happy to be proved wrong, I think the Tory resurgence after that would be complete.’ Chuckling she adds, ‘I think that could possibly be the most catastrophic thing that the Labour party in Scotland could do.’